Uniquely Fed: An Honest Look at the Realities of Breastfeeding, Part Three – Real Breastfeeding Stories, Vol. 7
Welcome to Vol. 7 of the Real Breastfeeding Stories part of Uniquely Fed – where I share real stories, from real moms with you!!
If you’re just joining me here, don’t miss what has already been shared in this series:
- Part One: My Journey
- Part Two: Common Breastfeeding Issues
- Part Three: Real Breastfeeding Stories
In today’s volume, we hear from moms who have had a variety of experiences, from rocky beginnings to multi-age tandem nursing.
Volume 7 – Dâmares, Jenni, and Sue
Click on the links (or images) to read today’s stories:
The very first moments feeding my baby were awesome…to hold her in my hands and be able to produce her food supply ?. Then, I started feeling cramps every time I would breastfeed her and this moment started feeling scary ?. But I kept breastfeeding beyond the pain as I believed feeding my baby was more important than whatever I was feeling. The horrible cramps passed after a few days. I kept feeling pain in my nipples though, due to its sensitivity for the entire first month – the first three months actually. What helped me get through was to hold hands with my lovely partner and to look at my baby’s face of contentment. Now I feel I’ll probably be breastfeeding forever… ??
I’d tell moms who are about to start their breastfeeding journey to be patient. The first days aren’t the easiest (or the best) but you are not alone. After a while, it will pass. And even when we’re in pain, and tired, it’s so worth it to be able to see our babies happily fed by us. Our human body is really magical ! ? READ MORE ABOUT DÂMARES’ BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY ON HER BLOG
About Dâmares: I’m Dâmares, a 20-something Brazilian mother of a sweet baby. I was reborn when my daughter was born! Visit my blog, To Marry a Millionaire, where I write about life, motherhood, crafts, beauty, and minimalism.
When I first found out I was pregnant with my first baby, I was over-the-moon excited! It took almost a full year of trying and being on medications. Plus lots of prayer, and, let’s be real, tears, to make it happe- as I was diagnosed with PCOS and was told I was post menopausal at only 24 years old (meaning my desire for a “natural” family could never be.)
So you can imagine my excitement when the seemingly impossible became possible. The second I got that positive pregnancy test I started my research. Because I felt like this truly was a miracle and gift straight from God Himself and I wanted to do everything “right” and natural. One of those things was, of course, breastfeeding! I learned all the different ways to hold baby and feed: the football hold, laying down on your side, etc. I read article after article and watched YouTube videos on how to get the perfect latch every time, and even took a breastfeeding class offered at the hospital where I was delivering. I was ready! Then the big day came and just about the only thing that went as expected was that at the end of the day I was officially a mommy to a beautiful baby girl! I don’t remember much from that evening because I was heavily drugged and in and out of sleep, but I do remember the next day and trying to breastfeed my miracle baby. It. was. hard. She wouldn’t take to my breast because I have what’s called “flat” nipples. Every little suckle hurt and it took forever because she was having a hard time latching correctly. I was oh so tired, sore from the c-section, and frustrated. I’m not gonna lie, there were a lot of tears shed that day.
The lactation consultant suggested trying a nipple shield to help with her latch and it worked! I was oh so relieved! I was able to feed my baby! I was told the shield was just a temporary thing, but we ended up having to use it for the entire nine months I was able to breastfeed her. Nine months is an accomplishment, I know that now, but then, I felt like I failed her. I felt like I should have gone the full year that is recommended. I’m not going to lie, I felt like a failure as a mother a lot during this time and up to the first full year of her life. Like I said in the beginning I wanted to do everything “right” and natural because I wanted to really take good care of my precious miracle. I wanted an unmedicated birth, but instead ended up having to have an emergency c-section (fail #1), having to use a nipple shield for every feeding (fail #2), and losing my milk supply at 9 months (fail #3). There were others, but these are the “big 3”. I never told anyone how I was feeling and I completely regret it. I know there are other moms who feel this way too or have been-there-done-that and I could have/should have gotten support from. But I didn’t.
During her first year and actually up until almost her 2nd year, I was working full time. My husband worked overnight and stayed up with her during the day so I pumped at work and actually breastfed her when I was with her. Around her seventh or eighth month of life, I started pumping less and less. She started losing weight and eventually I was told by her pediatrician that it was time to give her formula. This absolutely devastated me. “How could I let my baby starve like that, and now that I have to give her formula, what kind of mom am I? How is this taking care of my precious miracle?” These were the thoughts running through my head. I was extremely hard on myself, blaming myself for everything that had gone “wrong”. For the record, she ended up gaining her weight back, and is a little ball of energy, almost 4 year old!
I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd a few days after celebrating my oldest’s 1st birthday. I was shocked as I seriously thought I was only going to be blessed with one baby. In fact, I finally came to the decision that it was okay to only have 1 child just the day before. This time around I was determined to fix everything that went wrong the first time. My goal was a VBAC but this time I wasn’t going to put so much pressure on myself to do it unmedicated. And this time I was going to breastfeed as long as I could since I didn’t get to make it to the full year with my oldest. I ended up scheduling a C-section for a couple of different reasons but it was a decision that I made and I didn’t feel like a failure as a mother this time. I was still determined to breastfeed as long as possible and do everything I could to keep it going! I ended up having the same latching problem, again because of my flat nipples, but this time she lost weight in the hospital because she wasn’t eating at all. So I had no choice but to give her formula. I failed again (at least that is how I felt). Maybe breastfeeding just wasn’t something I was meant to do even though I longed for it. I was devastated. Crying as I gave my day-old baby formula because I thought it just wasn’t right. How could this happen again?? I kept trying and once again brought out the handy nipple shield, which finally helped after a while! Turns out, she only needed the help for her first few days because one day I leaned over to get the shield and she latched on all by herself! This of course made me cry tears of joy! I did it! I finally did it!
I felt this was the beginning of our breastfeeding journey! This one was a cluster eater, which I didn’t experience with my first baby girl. It was frustrating and exhausting! I was over breastfeeding pretty quickly, but kept reminding myself that I was doing what was best for her. I wanted to at least reach my goal of breastfeeding for a year and then after that I gave myself the option to continue or stop. At 1 year I decided I was going to go until she simply wasn’t interested anymore because I was proud of us for reaching our first goal. I breastfed her until she was 2! We stopped just a couple of months ago because I am currently 32 weeks pregnant with baby #3 and wasn’t up for the challenge of tandem nursing! I feel great about making it to 2 years with her and I look forward to my next breastfeeding journey!
I now know that I am not a failure as a mom. That those things that I considered a fail back then with my first were things that were out of my control. Nine months is a long ways to go (and longer than some are able to do) so I am now thankful I was able to breastfeed her that long! I’m not so sure if I will go to 2 years with this baby or not. I honestly don’t really have any goals in mind his time around and have learned to just go with the flow! Babies are so unpredictable and everyone’s story is different and beautiful!
My advice is to not beat yourself up about anything. As long as your baby is growing and well fed, you’re doing great mama!
I started my breastfeeding journey a little over two years ago. There have been plenty of bumps in the road. I expected to just naturally know what to do but this was anything but easy.
When my daughter was born she had a great latch. Everything was great until we came home. It’s so much easier in the hospital when a lactation consultant is close by to help. I had formula samples in the house “just in case” that were always tempting me to use. It seemed like the first three weeks were the toughest. Then it gradually got easier. My daughter seemed to cluster feed a lot. It felt like she was non-stop feeding and I came close to giving up a lot.
I decided to make small goals. First make it to a month, then to 3 months, then 6 etc. Now my “baby” is 2 years old and I’m working on weaning. We also have a 3 month old little girl who is a nursing champ. Tandem nursing was not what I wanted, but it is what we are currently doing. At first it was very, very difficult but now it’s really very manageable.
If I could give moms some advice it would be “don’t give up on a bad day,” “make small goals,” and “take any and all help given.”
I hope you enjoyed reading these stories and that you feel encouraged if your journey looks like one of these! Stay tuned for more stories in tomorrow’s post.
What has your breastfeeding journey been like? Did it go the way you had planned or hoped? Let me know in the comments.